God’s Secret Agents

Years ago, I was exposed to prayer walking in a foreign country. Until then, I’d never heard of prayer walking. Certainly mobilizing to go half way around the world to do it didn’t match my idea of a hands on mission task. The team leader assigned a book (Prayer Walking by Stephen Hawthorne and Graham Kendrick), and the team practiced in his neighborhood prior to the trip. The main theme of this book was praying on-site with insight.

We learned to notice wheelchair ramps, children’s toys in yards, multiple cars in driveways, someone on their porch or in their yard, a political sign, a well-manicured yard. These and other things were clues for how to pray on-site with insight.

So, what does one pray when prompted seeing a well-manicured yard? You can thank God they care for their property and ask God to help them to understand there is a Creator. Ask the Father to convict them and to desire His beauty in their soul.

Sometimes walking isn’t possible. Prayer riding is just as effective. The speed of the road doesn’t hinder the ability to see clues around you…the speeding motorcycle, people on the side of the road, the elderly driver, the one texting, police driving by… As you begin to make it a practice, you’ll find there is no end to what the Spirit will let your eyes see, notice, and discern. For example, you may pass a crash. Ask God to bring peace to the situation and to give all involved wisdom. Pray for anyone who doesn’t know the Lord to cry out to Him to be saved.

A few times a year, I try to take the ladies of Buried Treasures Home on a Prayer Ride. Our time is more structured because I’m trying to bring awareness to them of how they can pray for their community in the future. This structure is useful if you’re trying to teach children or adults the importance and give the awareness of praying for their city.

This is what I do for a scheduled prayer ride:

  • I google how to pray for local churches, government offices, police and fire stations, your local shopping center, nursing homes, etc.
  • I make copies of these ideas and pass them out in the van before we leave.
  • We pray before we leave the property for God to help us see with spiritual eyes and to teach us what to pray.
  • I drive to the first destination, park in a place out of the way, but where we can still see it. Different ones individually pray out loud and when we’re finished we drive away to the next destination.

5 reasons to prayer ride or prayer walk:

  1. It opens the way for God to work. Evil is prevalent even in the most charming places. Ever since the Garden, evil has desired to interfere and disrupt all that is good on this earth.
  2. You get to pray for where you live! It’s where God has planted you. Caring for your territory and the geography you occupy is deeply connected to stewardship. Other than voting in the elections and your involvement in your local church, I know of no better way to be a good citizen.
  3. It gives you a sense of ownership for where you live. You are part of the solution for your neighborhood or your town to be protected from evil and to succeed. Our neighborhoods and towns belong to us, God’s people.
  4. Prayer is powerful, and praying for where you live gives you hope. Your spiritual eyes are opened and you care for where God’s placed you. Even if you don’t see an immediate answer, I believe evil is thwarted because of prayer.
  5. Your love for humanity will bloom. We all grow cold and aloof to this dark world and praying in this way softens your heart for all people.

Consider doing this. The next time you have your children or grandchildren in the car, tell them to look around and tell you what they see. Turn their observations into prayers. As you go to work, or run errands, keep your blood pressure down in traffic by praying aloud in your car for those around you.

Prayer is a quiet activity, but never doubt the power of your prayers. You are God’s secret agent in your community. Let prayer be part of your everyday life and watch God work while you pray on-site with insight.

Prayer walking is an intriguing concept. The general idea is that instead of moving blindly from one place to another, you spend your walking looking at what the world is actually doing around you. As you observe more closely, you see things, people and even areas to be prayed for, and pray for them as you walk. Graham Kendrick

 

5 Reasons to Write a Handwritten Letter

There’s nothing like getting a personal letter in the mail. Short of wedding invitations and graduation announcements, letters can be few and far between these days. I’m thankful that during my lifetime, I knew about sending, as well as, receiving letters in the mailbox. There’s something special about an envelope with your name inscribed on it, and guessing who it is from. Soon the letter will be opened, and for a few minutes, you slow down and read the contents inside.IMG_7410

But snail mail in recent times has taken a hit. The convenience of technology has usurped the intentionality and slower pace of pen and paper. But many of you, I’m sure, have received somewhat meaningful mail through the United States Postal Service. To some, this blog may sound old-fashioned; bashing technology, however, is not my intent. Technology is amazing and is a creative wonder that yields blessings unmatched by our imaginations. I am taken with its speed, convenience, and creative options. However, sometimes slowing down with pen and paper offers benefits as well.

With that said, here are 5 reasons why one should handwrite a note or letter…

For the recipient:

1. Getting a personal letter in the mail is an unexpected pleasure, a surprise in the day.

2. Anticipating checking the mail and finding an envelope inscribed with your name on it can be exciting.

3. Looking at the return address to guess who it is from is something that is absent from technology and provides some intrigue to the exchange.

4. Wondering about the contents of the letter gets the mind actively involved in getting the letter opened.

5. Reading actual words written by another human on paper is so unusual that it can be a particular blessing.

For the writer:

1. Intention – Something about pen and paper shows thought went into the message being sent.

2. Personality – Your stationery and pens can complement your communication and how your writing is presented.

3. Connection – What better way to reach out to someone in such a personal way!

4. Exclusivity – A letter is private. It’s between you and one other.

5. Dignity – A letter raises human interaction to a higher level of communication.

So what is one to write?

It is surprising how interesting ordinary life can be to a reader. Share a memory, or write about your garden, pets, a needed home repair, or a Bible study give a sense of connection in a letter. Share a recent day trip,  a craft you’re working on, or a place you’d like to visit. Continue about the weather, your children or grands would provide some rich content. This brings the reader into your world.

We have an aunt that types an occasional letter to us. Generally, she discusses her recent aches and pains, her retirement friends that she meets each month, some family news, and possibly, she may mention a church service recently watched. That sounds mundane, but we enjoy it very much and appreciate it.

Recently, someone we know moved to another state, and it was a delight getting a real letter from her.  Her name was embossed across the top of each page of the stationery. She included news about a particular object she was hanging in her home. She discussed some needed changes in her backyard and a visit to a new grocery store in town. Every word absorbed.

For those who think you are too busy to sit down and write a letter, I totally understand. For me, it’s about carving a few minutes out of a month to write someone you care about who may not be on social media.

There’s something special about going to the mailbox and finding a  personal letter with your name on it. It is an expression of individual thought and care, and it’s likely to make your day when received. I suspect keeping letters is happening more now than ever due to the rare nature of the practice. It’s easy to make someone’s day in a distinctly personal way. Write a letter. Take a few moments and scribble out a few thoughts to one who’s on your mind. Order some stamps online or, better yet, visit your local post office to get a few stamps. Letter writing has always been one of the finer things in life, and someone needs to hear from you today.

“Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company.”
Lord Byron

A Verse and a Word

untitled2020 seems like it could be a year of order and perfection. The numerical pattern of the even numbers just looks clean, perfect, orderly.  The idea of 20/20 vision springs to mind perfect vision. Because we live in this world, we know it will not be a year of order or perfection for planet earth. Thankfully, we who love our Lord know for sure HE is the God of order and perfection. He has the plan not just for our world, but for each follower of Jesus.

For 2020,  it seemed right for me to get a verse and a word to give focus to the coming year and hope for the days to come. After pondering this, I was led to Psalm 121:2, “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” And Enthusiasm is the word for my year. The definition of enthusiasm mentions intense and eager enjoyment, interest, or approval. The words apathy, coolness, doubt, weariness is the opposite, which I admit at times is my default.

With my verse and word chosen, I understood that whatever is coming this year, the Lord will be my Helper. Additionally, I’m to approach all things to do with His plan with ENTHUSIASM.

I’ve challenged the ladies of Buried Treasures Home to get a verse and a word for the year. Several were enthusiastic about the idea, and some will do it because I asked them to do it. How about you? Are you ready to approach the year 2020 with a verse and a word? 11 days in, I can testify the verse and word come up in my mind often. I’m focused. Leave me a comment here or in the comments on Facebook. What’s your verse and word for 2020?

I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? Psalm 121:1

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God’s Secret Agents

Years ago, I was exposed to prayer walking in a foreign country. Until then, I’d never heard of prayer walking. Certainly mobilizing to go half way around the world to do it didn’t match my idea of a hands on mission task. The team leader assigned a book (Prayer Walking by Stephen Hawthorne and Graham Kendrick), and the team practiced in his neighborhood prior to the trip. The main theme of this book was praying on-site with insight.

We learned to notice wheelchair ramps, children’s toys in yards, multiple cars in driveways, someone on their porch or in their yard, a political sign, a well-manicured yard. These and other things were clues for how to pray on-site with insight.

So, what does one pray when prompted seeing a well-manicured yard? You can thank God they care for their property and ask God to help them to understand there is a Creator. Ask the Father to convict them and to desire His beauty in their soul.

Sometimes walking isn’t possible. Prayer riding is just as effective. The speed of the road doesn’t hinder the ability to see clues around you…the speeding motorcycle, people on the side of the road, the elderly driver, the one texting, police driving by… As you begin to make it a practice, you’ll find there is no end to what the Spirit will let your eyes see, notice, and discern. For example, you may pass a crash. Ask God to bring peace to the situation and to give all involved wisdom. Pray for anyone who doesn’t know the Lord to cry out to Him to be saved.

A few times a year, I try to take the ladies of Buried Treasures Home on a Prayer Ride. Our time is more structured because I’m trying to bring awareness to them of how they can pray for their community in the future. This structure is useful if you’re trying to teach children or adults the importance and give the awareness of praying for their city.

This is what I do for a scheduled prayer ride:

  • I google how to pray for local churches, government offices, police and fire stations, your local shopping center, nursing homes, etc.
  • I make copies of these ideas and pass them out in the van before we leave.
  • We pray before we leave the property for God to help us see with spiritual eyes and to teach us what to pray.
  • I drive to the first destination, park in a place out of the way, but where we can still see it. Different ones individually pray out loud and when we’re finished we drive away to the next destination.

5 reasons to prayer ride or prayer walk:

  1. It opens the way for God to work. Evil is prevalent even in the most charming places. Ever since the Garden, evil has desired to interfere and disrupt all that is good on this earth.
  2. You get to pray for where you live! It’s where God has planted you. Caring for your territory and the geography you occupy is deeply connected to stewardship. Other than voting in the elections and your involvement in your local church, I know of no better way to be a good citizen.
  3. It gives you a sense of ownership for where you live. You are part of the solution for your neighborhood or your town to be protected from evil and to succeed. Our neighborhoods and towns belong to us, God’s people.
  4. Prayer is powerful, and praying for where you live gives you hope. Your spiritual eyes are opened and you care for where God’s placed you. Even if you don’t see an immediate answer, I believe evil is thwarted because of prayer.
  5. Your love for humanity will bloom. We all grow cold and aloof to this dark world and praying in this way softens your heart for all people.

Consider doing this. The next time you have your children or grandchildren in the car, tell them to look around and tell you what they see. Turn their observations into prayers. As you go to work, or run errands, keep your blood pressure down in traffic by praying aloud in your car for those around you.

Prayer is a quiet activity, but never doubt the power of your prayers. You are God’s secret agent in your community. Let prayer be part of your everyday life and watch God work while you pray on-site with insight.

      • Prayer walking is an intriguing concept. The general idea is that instead of moving blindly from one place to another, you spend your walking looking at what the world is actually doing around you. As you observe more closely, you see things, people and even areas to be prayed for, and pray for them as you walk.
        Graham Kendrick

Why the Angels Sing

0e3fe-hark-the-heraldChristmas music abounds with scads of beautiful and touching carols, but none has captured my heart more than “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” I checked a few lists and this triumphant, happy song makes the top 20 Christmas songs. The theology in the hymn is crystal clear, and my heart rejoices to hear and sing it. The imagery of angels singing is not hard to visualize. The story told within the verses is joyful and masterful.

You may pick out some other Christian themes in it, but these are the ones obvious to me.

  • God sent Jesus into this world to save us.
  • All the nations rejoiced at His coming.
  • The angels proclaimed His birth.
  • Jesus is the highest and all supreme God, born of a virgin.
  • He deserves our devotion and allegiance.
  • The Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit were all present at His conception and birth.
  • HE IS WITH US.
  • He is the epitome of hope because He brings life to all who accept Him.
  • For those who accept Him, death is just a passage to the best life.
  • He is PEACE, He is RIGHTEOUS, He is LIGHT and LIFE.
  • He put His glory aside to come to earth as a humble babe.
  • Those who know Him, one day will rise to reign with Him. And lastly…
  • All glory, any amount, should be directed, and freely given to Him.

HARK THE HERALD ANGELS SING

Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled
Joyful, all ye nations, rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With angelic host proclaim
Christ is born in Bethlehem
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King

Christ,the everlasting Lord
Late in time behold him come
Offspring of the Virgin’s womb
Hail the Flesh, the God Head
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King

Hail the Heaven-born Prince of Peace
Hail the Son of Righteousness
Light and life to all He brings
Risen with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His Glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLCHark-the-Herald-Angels-Sing

This carol thrills my soul. Hearing the introductory notes, my heart and spirit get simultaneously glad and the words bring tears to my eyes . True worship to our King Jesus is contained in this song. It’s easy to see, why the angels sing!

Listen here…

Glory to the New Born King!

“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests’.” Luke 2:13-14

Christmas for the Soul

untitledIt’s almost Christmas. Some of you have a decorated home already. As you stay faithful to our Savior during this season, it’s important to remember, Jesus has shown us how to respond to the hard things.

This morning, my scripture writing was out of I Peter 2:21-25.

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth.” When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by His wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

This passage is inspiring. In the verses before it, the subject matter is about submission to authorities and suffering for doing good. Verse 21 starts, “To this, you were called.” We are called to submit to authorities and to know as followers of Jesus; we will suffer for doing good. When we do suffer, we are to endure it. The only thing I’d add to this is to be sure your suffering is not something you caused. Jesus is not talking about self-inflicted suffering; those preventable things.

The passage also says Christ suffered for you and left all believers an example in Himself and to follow in His steps. Based on verses 22 and 23, Jesus shows an example for us when He appeared before His accusers.

Jesus endured insults.

Jesus did not retaliate.

Jesus did not make any threats.

For us to respond as Jesus did requires us to walk in the Spirit. Responses like His are not natural. Typically, whenever we feel insulted, the opposite usually comes forth. Even if we manage to keep guard over our mouths, the darkness is in our hearts. The challenge from scripture does not take into account our sinful nature. The scripture gives us Jesus as our example, and He tells us we can respond like Him. The example is given and is the one to follow. We will face suffering for doing perfectly good things in Jesus’ Name, and we are to suffer well. We have His power inside us to respond well. Leaving the results to Him is a matter of trust. Jesus trusted His entire life to His Father.

He went to die on the cruel cross so that “we might die to sins and live for righteousness.” A wonderful thought follows, stating we are healed by His wounds. Jesus suffered on our behalf, in our place. And because HE did, we are healed. When we accept forgiveness from Jesus, we move from the disease of sin to being made well and whole. We identify with Christ. The cure has come.

In conclusion, verse 25 of this powerful passage says we have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls! Have you returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your soul? Acknowledged is the final hope of turning back to Him in the two protective, loving names, Shepherd and Overseer.

This Christmas season, let’s find hope in this passage from scripture. It tells the entire reason Jesus came and then ends almost like a benediction to comfort us as we return to Him, and endure until He comes again.

But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:5-6

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Dear Overseer and Shepherd of our souls, help us to suffer well. Let us bring glory to you. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

The Carrot Option

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It may not be your go to food, but if you’re on a meal plan or always looking for recipes to point you to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, carrots are an option. Carrots are underrated, but maybe we’ve all had the canned version, which is soft and pale.

A real carrot has a number of nutritional benefits. They are a colorful, tasty side dish, a healthy option at your Thanksgiving celebration, or your daily meal plan.

Crockpot Carrots

Step 1 – Purchase a 5 pound bag of carrots. Pass on the baby carrots and get the long carrots.

Step 2 – Place the carrots in a large bowl of water. Drain in a few minutes and rinse.

Step 3 – Cut down the carrot’s length and chop the long carrots in whatever size you like.

Step 4 – Turn crockpot on High. Add 5-6 Tablespoons of water. Add carrots. The carrots will fill the pot.

Step 5 – Drizzle olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper. Stir. This step could be done in a large bowl and then transferred over to the crockpot.

Step 6 – Put lid on and cook 4 hours.

The carrots are still firm, still bright orange, and nutritious. You could cook a bit longer if you want them tender all the way through. Cooked according to instruction ensures firmness, which causes you to chew slower, and this is excellent for digestion and enjoyment of your food.

One other tip: This recipe is easy because I don’t peel the carrots. Keep your nutrients.

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Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. Genesis 9:3

Truth in a List

12240313_434190853458724_1848317120572943722_oA few years ago, I was teaching children who had no idea who Jesus is. I was desperate to help them understand my love for Him and His word. I wanted to pass on some core ideas because I didn’t know how long I’d be with them. An urgency to share what I knew led to this list.  I thank the Lord, through His precious Holy Spirit for giving these Truth Sentences to me. These are core truths for all Christians. My hope is these help as you teach young children, whether yours or someone else’s. Teach the truth.
I see these being used in children’s Sunday School classes, Mission classes such as Awana or Royal Ambassadors, Acteens, Girls in Action. Perhaps a child can earn a certificate for memorizing the list and verse.

I know at Buried Treasures Home where I serve, the ladies receive a valued certificate for the memorization of these Truth Sentences.

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Here’s other ways for you to use them:
*Repeat them in the car while you run errands with your children or grandchildren.
*Work on one each night before bedtime with older children.
*With young preschoolers, go over the concepts while they take their bath or at the breakfast table
*Use these as a project with a couple of friends. Start memorizing the concept and verse and meet once a month to check your progress with each other.

You will be amazed how these truths change your world view. You will begin to see these concepts play out in your life. Once you have them, you can share the reason for the Hope in you. Your confidence about who God is will flourish.
Let me know in the comments or send me a message telling me how you plan to use these Truth Sentences.

A Free Printable of these sentences is here: Truth Sentences 1119

Truth Sentences

Jesus is God. John 1:1

All the Bible is true. John 17:17

Jesus never sinned. Hebrews 4:15

The Bible is God’s Word. Psalm 119:11

All Scripture is God-breathed. 2 Timothy 3:16 & 17

Jesus is God’s Son. John 3:16

Jesus never changes. Hebrews 13:8

The Word of God is alive and active. Hebrews 4:12

Truth Sentences Printable

My Best Friendship Tips

It is said one does not need many friends, just a few good ones. As I look back on my life, I can see it is true. The faithful few are the ones who matter. As I’m pondering the benefit of friendship, it is good to know the Lord Himself calls those who are in personal relationship with Him, His friends. Wow. I am a friend of God. How can this be? And I can’t let it go unsaid that Jesus is the best friend of all. But it is through His person and character we find qualities for earthly friends. We have all we need in Him, but He gives us people to love because He knows we need community.

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Christian women should have friends who love the Lord. Those who will pray alongside you and cheer you on when times are tough. Those who text back immediately even when long-distance separates and who call when they set a time to chat. These are quality friends.

My husband and I left some precious friends in Rhode Island when we moved to Mississippi. But this past weekend, one flew here for a visit. She was with us a couple of days, and then she, myself, and my husband drove to Louisiana to see a mutual friend get married. A weekend entirely about friendship. These times are to be cherished.

So what do you think matters when it comes to friendship? Here’s my list…

  • Loyalty or Faithfulness – This woman will stand by you, doesn’t breathe a word of your confidence, and prays. Years later, she is still adding value to your life.
  • Spiritually Compatible – This woman pursues God. She cares about what God cares about. She listens when godly advice is given.
  • Appreciation – This woman sees your kingdom contribution and appreciates your service to Him and all your other roles in life. There is no jealousy, only support.
  • Presence – This woman is a  good friend. She doesn’t create drama. She doesn’t ask what she can do when you are in trouble; she knows what to do. She is there, but she isn’t in the way.
  • Respect – This woman stands on her own 2 feet, but if she needs help, she accepts it gladly as a blessing. She knows the boundary lines and a healthy relationship is an ongoing goal.

I think this is a good list. These qualities grow as the relationship grows and prove themselves over time. If you have friends in your inner circle who put you down, criticize you, and don’t care about the things you care about, it’s time to make some new friends. Ask God to put you in situations, so you’re in contact with healthy women and see if He won’t allow a friend to emerge.photo-1568680466895-34b9504c8b10

Life is too hard, and God is too good not to have a few sweet and loving women in your life. Again, quality is better than quantity. And remember to keep the Lord first, and He will direct your path toward those women who are good and healthy for your life.

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” C. S. Lewis

 

Scripture Writing Now

untitledScripture Writing became a habit for me a few years ago. It was then I discovered people who combined their creativity with intention to produce countless options of monthly guides for writing the Holy Scripture. I was interested and years later, I still love it.

It’s almost October. New things are beginning, routines being established, challenges occupy our minds. Do you need a new spiritual habit which promises to yield instant results? Scripture writing is for you!

Here’s 10 reasons why you will love scripture writing:

  1. Interacting and writing God’s Word is supernatural and transformative.
  2. Writing God’s Word gives your brain time to capture the meaning.
  3. Writing God’s word is inspiring and encouraging.
  4. Reproducing the scripture in your own handwriting gives a personal sense to it, helping you own the verses.
  5. Focus is put on God at the beginning of the day and you sense His presence.
  6. Peace comes as writing slows you down to think and ponder your life.
  7. Order and focus are added to your quiet time as you write that day’s scripture.
  8. It doesn’t take long since only a few verses are written each day.
  9. Exposure to passages may draw you to memorize a small portion of God’s Word.
  10. God will reveal Himself to you.

Before you begin, find a notebook and pens just for this spiritual practice. Find a scripture writing for the month here. Print it. Find a favorite spot in your home where you can practice this uninterrupted.

Now you are ready to begin:

  • Set your alarm to add this into your schedule
  • Get your coffee or tea or breakfast
  • Go to your special place
  • Locate the passage in the Bible
  • Look at the passage for that day
  • Read it silently
  • Write it
  • Read aloud(your quiet voice is fine)
  • Diagram the passage – go here for a printable list here… Diagramming Scripture~
  • Ponder what God is saying and begin your prayer time

By the time those steps are taken, insight comes.

Before you leave to get busy with your day, take time to write a few thoughts or a prayer to God. You may have questions, or a prayer of thanks, confession, or a commitment to obedience.14918789_571951203016021_4591130726022028919_o

WARNING:

If you haven’t had a very intentional quiet time with Jesus, expect obstacles and opposition, but don’t allow those to discourage you. Hearing from the Lord and praying to Him are the most important things a Christian can do. These are the essence of who we are as His people. These practices develop us into who we can be for His Kingdom use. Don’t give up.

BLESSING:

You will feel accomplished and a new freedom in your spirit as you put this practice in your life. Interacting with God’s Word is a positive. Even if He convicts you of sin, just confess it. Ask Him to help you be more like Him. Jim Elliot, said, “Why do you need a voice when you have a verse.”

“the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

If you have a Bible that’s falling apart, you’ll have a life that’s not. Adrian Rogers

 

Hope for Dolores

Rhode Island, geographically, is the smallest state in the United States. However, it is the second most-densely populated state. This unique state was our home for 11 years, as North American Mission Board, church planters. The state motto, HOPE, was harmonious with our assignment; to bring the HOPE of Jesus through the expression of a local, Christ centered church.

From the beginning we experienced God; sometimes in joys and results, and other times in silence and endurance.60-100-10273-2

Building relationships by the power of the Holy Spirit is necessary to planting a church. Even though some may never enter the church doors, relationships build the reputation of the church.

One of the first relationships began in the first place we lived. Our adjoining neighbor was Dolores. What a fireball she was! Born in Boston (with the accent to prove it), Catholic all her life, a widow, knowledgeable, with the composure to survive. She was in her early 90’s now, alone, physically limited, and although she didn’t practice her faith, she clung to it with all she had.

Then we came. The Mississippian’s planting a church in her town! After we met, we’d occasionally make visits to check on her. She watched TV and read, and seemed to accept her life as it was. We snatched as many opportunities to engage with her spiritual need.

One day, she announced she’d be moving to a single level,efficiency apartment. We exchanged addresses, phone numbers, assisted in her move, and soon, our neighbor was gone.

Part of building the friendship with Dolores was to establish who we were, why we came and who we served. Her move would not hinder our relationship with her.

We talked by phone. I would plan visits and bring requested donuts and coffee. One on one chats, sorting through her mail, and sometimes, assisting her with some grooming tasks were common activities.

Dolores often wanted to hear about our work. Talking about Jesus was a natural topic in our conversations. She was curious.

One divine visit, she answered the door agitated and panicked. This was most unusual. Glad to see me, she was anxious to sit at the table. As I divided the snacks, she started to tell me about a recent occurrence since our last visit.

While lying in bed one night, she began thinking about her husband and remembered a verse she’d heard in Catholic school – Jesus would come like a thief in the night. She then wondered if her husband was in heaven, but then fear gripped her heart as she wondered about herself.  If Jesus returned in that moment, would she go to heaven?

Hearing this thrilled my heart. God was at work and was revealing Himself to her! The weight of her experience melted away as she shared. She began to realize her day of salvation had come. Now she could receive Jesus into her heart. She could know if Jesus came “like a thief in the night”, she would be ready. Right then she prayed to Jesus.

She wept.

As we pondered the life changing moments, she wondered aloud why no one had ever told her about Jesus before now.

Gazing out the window, she reflected on the years she’d walked back and forth on the sidewalk there in town – going and coming from Catholic school. “I never heard about Jesus and that He could be mine.” I said, “Well, you know now, Dolores.”

Only a few more visits on God’s eternal calendar were allowed with her. I noticed a blanket of peace wrapped her. She started reading her Bible.

I can only imagine the relief she felt in those last days of her life. Going to bed was no longer a torment and one night that’s where she slipped into Jesus’ arms. The place where the Holy spirit had captured her attention ended up as a place of peaceful passage to her heavenly home.

HOPE had come to Dolores.

Praise be to the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ! In his great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you…I Peter 1:3-4

 

10 Winning Quotes

IMG_0029.JPGThis blog is quotes I’ve found in my Notes app recently, plus other favorites. The Notes app on my phone is a gift that keeps on giving. No more trying to remember something long enough to write it down.

See if one of these quotes is new to you, makes you think, or perhaps becomes a favorite of yours!

  1. “I need no friends. I have my Bible and my flowers, that’s enough.”  ~  From Samson, the caretaker, in the movie “One Foot in Heaven.

  2. “Worry is the misuse of imagination.” ~ Elizabeth George

  3. “There is no comfort in the growth zone and no growth in the comfort zone. Our problem is that we don’t want to go through anything. Comfort is my enemy. Comfort leads us to complacency. Complacency leads us away from God. ” ~    Maggie Wade

  4. “Tell your testimony to your grandchildren.”  ~ author unknown

  5. “To lose fear in the creative things we do is so important. ” ~ Jan Karon

  6. “No matter how you feel. Get up, dress up, show up, and never give up.”  ~ Regina Brett

  7. “When you live by God’s Word, your life works. When you live without God’s Word, life doesn’t work. God’s Word builds you up, feeds your soul, and gives you strength, direction, guidance, hope, encouragement, and faith. Remember that He gave you His Word so that you would know Him and the way He wants You to live.” ~ Stormie Omartian

  8. “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”~C.S. Lewis

  9. “Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky, The flying cloud, the frosty light: The year is dying in the night; Ring out, wild bells, and let him die. Ring out the darkness of the land, Ring in the Christ that is to be.” ~ Tennyson

  10. “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” ~ Corrie Ten BoomIMG_0031

What is a favorite quote of yours? Go ahead and leave a comment here or in the Facebook post.

For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit…I Peter 3:10

 

I Love the Lord

downloadYesterday on social media a national speaker recommended a song. It caused me to research it for a moment. I chose to watch it on YouTube not by the version recommended, but by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir out of New York. This song, “I Love the Lord” pierces the depths of me, cuts through my shame and guilt, and leaves me at the feet of Jesus feeling dearly loved. Praise His Name.

The song was written in the 17th century by Isaac Watts. And when I wonder about that era of time, what was going on then… I conclude as Solomon says, “nothing new is under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). That means nothing is new, nothing. The same human nature has existed all this time and Isaac, for whatever reason, was making a claim that in spite of it all, he loved the Lord.

The test of the Christian life is this. In spite of it, whatever the “it” is, our love for the Lord is challenged, our hearts tested, purified. We learn to love the Giver, not His gifts. We learn as Habakkuk proclaimed in his suffering, “yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Habakkuk 3:18).

For me, as I progress along the road of briar bushes and unexpected slips in the mud, I learn why loving the Lord is no longer the challenge, but the solution.

In spite of it all, loving the Lord over bitterness becomes my approach. In spite of it all, I see how glorious it is to love the Lord.  In spite of it all, it is He who can cheer my soul, bring hope into my crazy, and let me know He has heard my cry. In spite of it all, I know it is He who ministers to me.  And, all I can say is, … I love the Lord.

I Love the Lord

I love you, Lord; you heard my cries,
and pitied every groan;
Long as I live, when troubles rise,
I’ll hasten to your throne.

I love you, Lord; you bow your ear;
you’re ever good and just.
Then let my heart feel no despair!
Your power has all my trust.

If you behold me sore distressed,
you bid my pains remove;
I’ll turn my soul to you, my rest,
and witness to your love.

Isaac Watts 1719

I love the Lord because he hears my voice
and my prayer for mercy.
Because he bends down to listen,
I will pray as long as I have breath! Psalm 116:1-2

 

Listen to I Love the Lord here

Christ is Our Way

untitled.pngFrom D. L. Moody’s book – The Way To God and How To Find It . Mr. Moody states he was looking through some papers and found this and he wanted to pass it to his readers. I found it in his book and am passing it on to my readers. The author is unknown.

“Christ is our Way; we walk in Him.

He is our Truth; we embrace Him.

He is our Life; we live in Him.

He is our Lord; we chose Him to rule over us.

He is our Master; we serve Him.

He is our Teacher; instructing us in the way of salvation

He is our Prophet;  pointing out the future.

He is our Priest; having atoned for us.

He is our Advocate; ever living to make intercession for us.

He is our Saviour; saving to the uttermost.

He is our Root; we grow from Him.

He is our Bread; we feed upon Him.

He is our Shepherd; leading us into green pastures.

He is our true Vine; we abide in Him.

He is the Water of Life; we slake our thirst from Him.

He is the fairest among ten thousand; we admire Him above all others.

He is the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of His person; we strive to reflect His likeness.

He is the upholder of all things; we rest upon Him.

He is our wisdom; we are guided by Him.

He is our Righteousness; we cast all our imperfections upon Him.

He is our Sanctification; we draw all our power for holy life from Him.

He is our Redemption; redeeming us from all iniquity.

He is our Healer, curing all our diseases.

He is our Friend, relieving us in all our necessities.

He is our Brother, cheering us in our difficulties.”

 

 

Free Printable here: Christ is our Way

It’s Not an Even Trade

Whether you’re a believer in Jesus for 50 years or 50 minutes, you know this, you’re life HAS to change. The Lord requires nothing less. As a matter of fact, He requires ALL. He gave His all for you and me. It cost Him everything. 

You must trade-in your old life.

The ladies at Buried Treasures Home, where I once served, have a term called “couch surfing.” This is what addicts do when they are homeless and going to wherever the drugs are. It’s a hard reality to hear.

As horrible as this is, they tell me an addict has to be ready to change; otherwise, they will get pulled back into this destructive life. They tell me it is vital to remove old places, people, and things that supported their lifestyle. That’s not an easy decision. It costs them their old life, which at the time seems a risk.

Not all people have such a dramatic choice to make, but it is the same choice, none the less. The decision to follow Christ is a daily one, and it also requires choices, some of which seem tiny and inconsequential. These may be some of the most important.

He said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23

You learn to love the Giver and not just His gifts.

You learn to embrace the narrow road, not just in outward behavior, but in your heart.

At a recent fellowship dinner, someone said, “Keep your foot on the narrow road and keep reading your Bible. The wide road may look attractive and have pretty flowers, but if you get too close, the bugs will come out!”

There are many descriptions of what can happen on the wide road. But keeping your eyes on Jesus is a daily walk, and it’s not an even trade. No, the Lord Jesus already paid it all. Any sacrifice you make to follow Him is worth it and doesn’t compare to His sacrifice. Not even close.

You get way more from this trade. You get His gifts. Things like:

Peace

Protection

Joy

A plan for your life

Direction in decisions

His intervention in your circumstances

Forgiveness

A body of believers become family

Provision

His Word to read and depend on

His faithfulness to you

and so much more.

So, where is your commitment today? Half-hearted is no heart. The Lord demands all because HE gave it all for you. Again, any sacrifice on your part, although He often honors it, is still nothing compared to Who He Is and what He’s done.

It’s not a list of dos and don’ts. It’s about your heart.

You get far more walking closely with Jesus than walking casually by Him.

There is no comparison. It’s not an even trade.

 

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“For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” 2 Chronicles 16:9

Dear Faithful Father, the narrow road can be uncomfortable at times but is a place of protection. Help me to want to take the narrow road always, but to choose it each day. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

The Beautiful and Faithful

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given by permission by national WMU

In the Fall of 2000, my husband and I, along with a mission team arrived in Odessa, Ukraine. Our assignment: to prayer walk in a village in the Crimean peninsula. Although we’d been trained in the months preceding, the journey was new. Preparing to go was an extraordinary undertaking and prayer walking, a new concept in our lives. Our team leader trained us using a book entitled,  Prayer Walking: Praying On-Site with Insight  by Graham Kendrick.

The day arrived for the 12-hour flight. Once landed, the Odessa airport experience was uncomfortable and primitive. The environment was punctuated with a quiet mystery looming as armed guards watched suspiciously from a distance. The freedoms we enjoy in America seemed suddenly gone and replaced by a grey, colorless, restrictive environment. No bustling people, announcements, television newscasts, bathrooms, food kiosks or shops. We were in a new land and the mission was before us.

The poverty, unpredictable electricity, potties in the ground, undrinkable water and dirt roads all normal to Ukrainians, were unusual and humorous at times to us. We saw God at work and were rewarded immediately and consistently for our obedience, yet still, the lay of the land was unfamiliar and kept us on our toes.

Ukraine sept oct 2000

This is why Thomas and June Nolen were key to our navigation from the familiar to unfamiliar. Their easy demeanor and genuine joy gave us strength for this incredible task. Their humor was medicine to our weary souls. We will never forget their attentiveness, and reliability. Their smiles, even their appearance spoke of a couple ready to serve, able to care for those who’d come to be on mission. The week was inspiring and faith building, but it was the Nolens who God used to orchestrate it.

The Nolens are a retired couple from Mantee, MS. They served in Ukraine from January 1999 – Fall 2002 being Coordinators for the Mississippi/Ukraine partnership. Many Mississippians went to Ukraine those years. As far as our week in Ukraine, the Nolens presence felt like protection; their cheer and humor like familiarity; their appreciation like confidence.untitled.png

Last fall I saw the ad in the Mission Mosaic magazine for a Walk of Faith garden being constructed at the WMU headquarters in Birmingham, AL.  June Nolen came to mind and I decided to purchase a brick in her honor.

If you decide to do this, the WMU Foundation will send a letter to the person you are honoring with your gift or to the family of the person you are memorializing. The letter they receive lets them know you gave. This is a picture of the letter I received showing a replica of the brick going in this garden to be seen by generations.IMG_9661

It’s my joy to honor June Nolen. A kind, organized, thorough, sometimes funny, real, and beautiful missionary. She and Thomas have loved me and Clark through the years and enriched our lives with palpable memories and spiritual commitment.

If you would like  more information so you can honor or memorialize a person who’s impacted your life through missions, visit the website here.

See a video telling about the Walk of Faith garden here.

The Nolen’s walk of faith certainly impacted our walk of faith. And now you can impact those who’ve impacted you with a Walk of Faith brick too.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2

When One Chooses

12037941_428656370678839_1604878299138529356_nGod has a way of plucking people from the worst circumstances and setting their feet on a rock to serve and praise Him. Ethel Waters is one of millions to have this redemptive experience.

Some of you may remember the Billy Graham Crusades televised years ago. I wrote a blog here sharing my thoughts about those crusades as I remembered Billy Graham.

Ethel Waters was often a guest singer. Many had no idea of her story. Born in Pennsylvania in 1896, she was a product of a disparaging childhood. She made her way past the bar rooms to Broadway and achieved worldly success as a singer and later in the movies.

An Emmy nomination would make her the first black woman to have this honor. But greater things than this were in store for her. Worldly success would pale as she would find God and live the last 20 years of her life devoted to His service. The Billy Graham Crusades put her God-given talent in front of millions, and finally it would be used for eternal purposes until her death in 1977.

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A sparrow is not the most beautiful bird God created. Its size is usually about 5 inches, and its coloring is brown and other neutrals. Not impressive at all, and yet, God created sparrows for a purpose. There are lessons to apply, and I think Ethel Waters did.

“His Eye Is on the Sparrow” is one of her most popular songs. Charles Gabriel and Civila Martin wrote it, but Ethel Waters brought it to life. You can watch her sing it here.

Thank God for her life. Once redeemed, it was well lived for God’s glory. If you search her on YouTube, you will see a demonstration of her legacy. The views of her songs are evidence of God spreading His story through her story.

Ethel Waters, proof a horrible beginning doesn’t necessarily mean a bad ending. She used the time in her later years to serve the only One who can bring light from darkness, hope from despair, and glory to the only One who can save us from ourselves. God gives us the dignity to make the choice.

 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Romans 10:9-10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Truth in a List

12240313_434190853458724_1848317120572943722_oA few years ago, I was teaching children who had no idea who Jesus is. I was desperate to help them understand my love for Him and His word. I wanted to pass on some core ideas because I didn’t know how long I’d be with them. An urgency to share what I knew led to this list.  I thank the Lord, through His precious Holy Spirit, for giving these Truth Sentences to me. These are core truths for all Christians. My hope is these help as you teach young children, whether yours or someone else’s. Teach the truth.
I see these being used in children’s Sunday School classes, Mission classes such as Awana or Royal Ambassadors, Acteens, Girls in Action. Perhaps a child can earn a certificate for memorizing the list.

I know at Buried Treasures Home where I serve, the ladies receive a valued certificate for the memorization of these Truth Sentences.

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Here are other ways for you to use them:
*Repeat them in the car while you run errands with your children or grandchildren.
*Work on one each night before bedtime with older children.
*With young preschoolers, go over the concepts while they take their bath or at the breakfast table
*Use these as a project with a couple of friends. Start memorizing the concept and verse and meet once a month to check your progress with each other.

You will be amazed at how these truths change your world view. You will begin to see these concepts play out in your life. Once you have them, you can share the reason for the Hope in you. Your confidence about who God is will flourish.
Let me know in the comments or send me a message telling me how you plan to use these Truth Sentences.

A Free Printable of these sentences is here: Truth Sentences 1119

Truth Sentences

Jesus is God. John 1:1

All the Bible is true. John 17:17

Jesus never sinned. Hebrews 4:15

The Bible is God’s Word. Psalm 119:11

All Scripture is God-breathed. 2 Timothy 3:16 & 17

Jesus is God’s Son. John 3:16

Jesus never changes. Hebrews 13:8

The Word of God is alive and active. Hebrews 4:12

Truth Sentences Printable

He Died for Me

This poem is based chronologically on portions of Matthew’s Gospel.  I wrote this as Easter approached a number of years ago.

photo-1434077471918-4ea96e6e45d5He died for me?
How can that be, that Jesus chose to die for me?
Nailed to a tree, unjustified.
His blood applied. What news! That Jesus died for me!

He knew His purpose, He knew the Plan.
God would come in the form of man.
To live with us and dwell with us.
For me, for ME? He died for me.

The joy before Him, He endured the cross.
He suffered and scorned its shame.
Left without a friend, obedient to the end.
This Jesus, my Jesus, He died for me.

Foretold in Isaiah,
Spoken for by John.
Baptized in the Jordon, the sky would open,
The Father had spoken and the mission had begun.
This Jesus, my Jesus, He died for me.

Tempted by Satan, proved faithful by Scripture,
He preached repentance and called His disciples.
He healed the sick so I could see.
This Jesus, yes Jesus, He died for me.

untitled.pngSpoke from a mountain and told of the fountain,
The life we could have in Him.
Love the lowly, avoid adultery.
Be salt and light, and love, peace and mercy.
Stay free, live free. His mind always on me.
This Jesus, merciful Jesus. He died for me.

Give it all away, pray and forgive,
Store up treasures where one day you’ll live,
Don’t worry or judge. Ask, seek and knock.
Enter the narrow gate and stay close to the flock.
He’s prepared a way.
This Jesus, my Jesus, He died for me.

No houses on sand, build a solid foundation.
Have faith, be healed and let His glory be revealed.
Be devoted and follow, let Him calm your storms.
No sacrifices needed, only a heart turned towards.
This Jesus, my Jesus, He died for me.

The workers are few, the LOST are many.
Pray to the Lord for more help.
He wants to save, let’s pray today,
for our families, friends and enemies.
He loves them all, we don’t understand.
This Jesus, unfathomable Jesus, He died for me.

He calls us out every single day,
Go, tell, and be sure to pray.
Love in my Name, and do all for Me.
I promise to provide and give rest when you’re weary.
Keep my Sabbath, stay faithful in meeting.
Your strength comes in numbers, love one another deeply.
His plan is good, better than your own.
This Jesus, Son of Man, He died for me.

Love as a child; stay on the straight and narrow.
I’ll provide your food, your rest and a bright tomorrow.
No worry for clothes or a place to lay your head.
All that is my joy to give, trust me, you’ll be fed.
Such love, such care we don’t deserve.
This Jesus, my Redeemer, He died for me.

dan-kiefer-467645-unsplash (1)He came as a babe, so lowly and small
no place for Him, but a dirty stall.
The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords
He came so I can live.
He humbled himself, our example, the Servant.
He taught us and so now, we can be fervent.
Our devotion is true and our lives shine,
All for His glory and none for mine.
Because He lives, I can live too.
This Jesus, my Jesus, He died for YOU.

Defeated and mocked or so it appeared.
They stripped Him, but couldn’t take His glory.
Even to the end, redemption told the story
For one who was on His side – paradise was his reward.
The curtain torn, they laid Him in a tomb, guarded by soldiers,
Oh, such doom.
But victory was coming, the women were running,
to tell that they had seen Him!
To many He appeared, even to those He loved dear,
And now He reigns on His throne above.
This Jesus, My Jesus, all for love, He died for YOU.

The day and hour is not known, but one day He will come.
For now, He reigns in our hearts and on His heavenly throne.
This Jesus whose blood was shed for me
has made my life worth living.
This Jesus, my Jesus, He died for me.untitled3.png

It happened long ago we know, and yet the truth remains.
His resurrection ever told, through the truth of His claims.
They cannot prove otherwise, His followers know it’s true,
for we are forever grateful and try to show it in all we do.
He is the Way, the Truth, the Life. He is the only One.
He’s the God of all gods and the only true Son.
It is our joy today to honor Him and bless His Name,
For we know He lives because our lives are changed.
This Jesus, the Powerful Savior, it’s Him we celebrate.

The cross was the bridge for our sin sick souls
Our hellish lives could now be redeemed.
If we know Him in our hearts, we cannot help but sing.
The One who’s closer than a brother,
The One who calls us His friends.
It doesn’t seem possible, this personal Savior.
He’ll see us to the end.

Heaven is our future, death has lost its sting.
Through generations till He comes, His truth forever rings.
The best thing that has happened is we know deep down inside,
He makes His home in our hearts and there He now abides.
No more could He have done,
His love has set me free.
This Jesus, yes Jesus, He died for me.

by Valerie Rumfelt

Mary of Bethany

Just a few days before Jesus would die on the cross for the sins of the world, there is an account of a woman who took an opportunity to worship Him. Her display was remarkable and loving and remembered throughout all time.

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John 12:1-8 is the passage. We find Lazarus hosting a dinner for Jesus. Martha is serving. Mary is near Jesus.

It is six days before the Passover Feast. Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived. Lazarus was the one Jesus had raised from the dead.

2 A dinner was given at Bethany to honor Jesus. Martha served the food. Lazarus was among the people at the table with Jesus. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard. It was an expensive perfume. She poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the sweet smell of the perfume.
4 But Judas Iscariot didn’t like what Mary did. He was one of Jesus’ disciples. Later he was going to hand Jesus over to his enemies. Judas said, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold? Why wasn’t the money given to poor people? It was worth a year’s pay.” 6 He didn’t say this because he cared about the poor. He said it because he was a thief. Judas was in charge of the money bag. He used to help himself to what was in it.
7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “The perfume was meant for the day I am buried. 8 You will always have the poor among you. But you won’t always have me.”

What splendid love Mary displays.

As onlookers to this beautiful story, we admire Mary because of her outward evidence of inward devotion toward Jesus. She gave all she had to worship Jesus and show her love to Him.

To Mary, Jesus was the only one in the room. She is compelled to worship Him in this precious and costly way.

Judas, the one who would later betray Jesus was in the room and opposed this act of love. Judas’s weakness was he cared only for himself. When he tried to deceitfully point out Mary’s love toward Jesus as being misguided, the selfishness and darkness in his character are exposed.

The difference between Judas and Mary is stark. Judas tried to garner favor for his position by pulling in the poor as his cover. He not only revealed his true colors but tried to deceive those around him into thinking he was concerned for the poor.

Jesus, of course, was the One present concerned about the poor most of all. The fact that Judas tried this tactic with Jesus present exposes even more about Judas’s unfavorable and repulsive character.

Mary, on the other hand, is generous in her expression of love. To be clear, it was a display. Unabashed, Mary seems oblivious to the dark character sitting near her in Judas and still displays a lavish love for Jesus using a lavish product. She is one to admire and esteem.

Jesus knew both hearts, of course, and welcomed Mary’s love and worship while penetrating the darkness of Judas with a direct command to leave Mary alone.

This story thrills me. Jesus, willing to fellowship with friends and foes alike, ready to defend the pure in heart, receives an extravagant love and appreciates the sacrifice. In only a few words, He exposes the motives and forces of evil sitting near Him in Judas.

The people in Jesus’ day didn’t understand they would soon lose Him to a brutal and sacrificial death on their behalf. Even in this passage, Jesus tells those present that He will not always be with them. They couldn’t grasp that He’d soon be gone. No matter how many times Jesus spoke of His coming death, they could not understand.

In a few days, each day leading to the Resurrection holds a different meaning. Let’s ponder Mary. This brave lady used her opportunity to worship Jesus in the face of evil.  In a few days, she would be at the foot of the cross with other women who loved Him. Let’s be like Mary, unashamed to worship the One who saved us and faithful enough to live for Him until the end of our days.

Perhaps the most striking lesson to be learned from Mary of Bethany is her unwavering devotion to Jesus. She not only followed Him; she worshipped Him. She hung on His every word. No matter what was happening around her, she never lost sight of Him. Jesus defended her pure love, and He ensures her story is told through the ages.

She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he said. Luke 10:39

 

Lamb of God

It’s Holy Week. A contemplative, yet joyous week for all who believe in Jesus, trust Him with their lives, and show Him their love through obedience. This poem is one I wrote a few years ago.

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Lamb of God

 

O Lamb of God, so pure and sinless
Thank you for your love so endless.
No other could have died that day.

O Lamb of God, who paid my way
To heavens glory I’ll go one day;
To worship you in peace and love
Sweet Lamb of God, to you I fall.

Oh Lamb of God, perfect offering
Your blood flowed on that day.
But death couldn’t keep you, no.
You rose from the grave.

O Lamb of God, what can I do,
To let you know my love for you?
Live life in fellowship with me,
Do this daily and you’ll be free.

O Lamb of God who took my place
By grace, now I can see your face.
You washed me clean that day, it’s true
And now I choose to live for you.

By Valerie Rumfelt

Beets per Minute

photo-1507484467459-0c01be16726eWhen was the last time you ate beets? I don’t imagine it’s at the top of most people’s culinary favorites. I used to hate beets because my only experience with them was out of a can. Those are truly awful. My mother would have them as a side dish for dinner occasionally and they tasted like whatever I thought pennies would taste like, purely awful.

From childhood until a few years ago, all that time…no beets.

Until  a friend of ours became ill…

He decided that having a  healthy diet  would keep the cancer from developing further. One time in his home he prepared a beet salad made from fresh beets. My palate made a new memory and beets for the first time had a good place in my mind.

Recently, my husband purchased beets in a plastic container from the produce department. They were round, soaking in vinegar. Then I viewed an ad for Green Giant Frozen Beets on social media. It seemed beets were emerging. The image in the ad was of spiral cut beets. It was intriguing. Going to the store was on my list so I purchased this vegetable, frozen. Not long ago, we ate them as a side dish.

I cooked the beets as directed on the package while sautéed purple onion simmered in a pan. After the beets were cooked, I drained the liquid from them, and added them to the pan of onions. In a couple of minutes it was ready to serve. I didn’t add another thing to this mixture. It was a vivid maroon serving of 2 nutrient packed vegetables. A natural sweetness seemed to make it all palatable.

And in case you’re concerned about that natural sweetness, the natural fiber is the barrier to slow down the travel of the sugar into your bloodstream. This is how God created our bodies and all the processes HE created are for our good.

photo-1467019972079-a273e1bc9173After looking online, there are a number of food items that can be added to beets. This list gives you a few ideas:

  • For a cold salad, a bag of spinach could be added with feta cheese and walnuts.
  • Orange slices would add be a succulent addiction. delicious and incredibly healthy.
  • Whip up a honey dressing stirring in balsamic vinegar and garlic to go on top.
  • Roasted carrots or diced sweet potato would be a colorful combination for a hot dish.

I was pleasantly surprised by this simple dish. Beets are very good for your body by being a good source of vitamin C, magnesium and can aid in cardiovascular health.

“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” ~Margaret Thatcher

Sometimes the weekends present challenges to a healthy lifestyle and the discipline we had all week crumbles.  Maybe this blog on beets can get you refocused this weekend. As a final note,  I would recommend fresh or frozen for beets, and any other vegetable.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

I Corinthians 3:16

 

Art and Youth

photo-1481624362406-b7817fa45ecfIs there anyone in the Christian world who hasn’t heard of the Gideons? Their real name is The Gideons International. Most hotels today still carry a Bible provided by this Christian organization in a drawer near the bed. But they state in their mission statement that they are more than just what we see in a hotel room.

The Gideons International is an Association of Christian business and professional men and their wives dedicated to telling people about Jesus through associating together for service, sharing personal testimony, and by providing Bibles and New Testaments. While we are often recognized for our work with hotels, we also place and distribute Scriptures in strategic locations so they are available to those who want them, as well as to those who may not know they need them.

Recently my husband and I saw a different side to The Gideons International… their  youth. The youth coordinator had contacted Buried Treasures Home via the facebook page a couple months ago wanting to know if there was anything they could do for us at Buried Treasures Home. They would be in the area attending the State Gideon Convention and these young people were available to do a service project while their parents attended meetings. After some dialogue, it was decided that they would come out and paint canvases that could be used in a new building.

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They showed up today with 2 adults and a few youth and children. Coming with sweet spirits, they worked with diligence and focus.  Each of their canvases are lovely and each one took pride in what they painted for us.

Afterwards we took them on a walking tour of Buried Treasures Home.

This wasn’t a typical Saturday morning at Buried Treasures Home. For one thing, the ladies were off campus themselves serving others at the Hope Conference which is according to their website, “an educational event for cancer patients, survivors, family members and caregivers.”  You can learn more here.

Typically on a Saturday morning Clark teaches Introduction to Christianity and we have our weekly calendar meeting and evaluations. While our ladies were serving the Lord, this strong group of youth was serving the Lord at Buried Treasures Home.

Their visit only solidifies all the more the good reputation that Gideons already had in our minds.

You can learn more about The Gideons International here.

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5 Ways to New Beginnings

2a44183f-6035-47e9-8397-80952ca92f45It’s the last day of February. Did you make any resolutions at the beginning of this year? We all long for a new start, a new beginning, and we believe we will behave differently this year and achieve it. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t.

At some point, I began to question the idea of making resolutions. The idea seemed empty to me. My trouble was defaulting to procrastination or losing focus. That was when goals began to mean more to me. Goals seemed to have a permanency to them, an unwavering commitment to being achieved. But even those can get self-focused, and you can climb the ladder a long time and find out it was leaning against the wrong wall.

If you are beginning to believe that your resolutions only leave you feeling hopeless, then take a look at the list below. They support the idea of doing life daily. The best way to begin is with the Lord as your Leader.

Self-discipline and determination are the keys to any success, but those traits come from the Lord, and anything started with Him is going to succeed!

  • Be focused – For the Lord GOD helps me. Therefore, I am not disgraced.Therefore, I have set My face like flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed. Isaiah 50:7
  • Be a disciple – Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23
  • Be humble –  “In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning, I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” Psalm 5:3
  • Be a servant- “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15
  • Be Committed – Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3

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    Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness. Lamentation 3:22-23

Love Is NOT Blind

freestocks-org-552875-unsplashAnd I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those who long for vile images and detestable idols, I will repay them fully for their sins. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”

Ezekiel 11:19-21

As Valentines Day approaches, may I recommend that we keep our focus on Jesus! The world groans. It is predictable. We are in a relationship with the only One who gives hope and provides us a home in Him. Remember, this world is not our home if we know Jesus. This is a time for believers to tighten our grip and be all the more devoted to the One who saved our soul.

The Old Testament passage above tells of God being the only one capable of heart transformation. His capability of giving a people a heart of devotion toward Him is spectacular and miraculous. But another side of God appears in the same passage as one who opposes those who are not serving Him and He repays them for their sins.

So what about now? We learn early in church that God is Love. I didn’t go to seminary and don’t have any impressive jargon to explain God’s love. But this is one thing I’ve learned. God is love, but…

His love is NOT blind – Lost people act like lost people and He sees. Lost people wander in darkness and produce much wickedness and evil. It is up to us, His children, to pray for hearts to be transformed. We are also commanded to witness with our lives and our lips on a regular basis.

His love is NOT blind – Even believers can produce surprising amounts of wickedness and evil which He sees. Although we are His children, we still give in to our sin nature for a moment or even a season. When we do, His discipline, designed to chase us back will come. (Proverbs 3:12). As for consequences, those soon become self-evident. Grace is wonderful, but we still break God’s heart when we sin. However, His love is not blind to our confessions and desire to turn back to Him and follow His ways. (1 John 1:9)

His love is NOT blind – He sees the good things His children do and rewards them. (Galatians 6:9) This is particularly encouraging if you’re in a thankless and under appreciated environment. Being the personal God that He is, it is thrilling when He approves of who we are in some particular way or in something we are doing at any moment in time.

Be warned however that God will never give approval to anything He has stated in the Bible as sin.

His love is NOT blind – For His children, we are given grace and mercy in all of life’s seasons whether we are devoted or not. He is not blind. It can’t be overstated how kind God is to His own. And yet, He uses that kindness often to lead us to repentance.(Romans 2:4).

For the unbeliever, they have the wrath of God on them. ( Romans 1:8, Hebrews 10:31)

As believers, we are to walk humbly before our God. God is all-knowing. We can rest in His love and know His love is not blind which is good news for His devoted ones looking at the evil of this world. God sees all and He has a justice system that is not based on human emotion or shifting shadows. He will punish the wicked.rocky shore

 

Here are a few action tips for believers living in this dark world:

  • We can sharpen our spiritual disciplines in prayer, Bible reading, witnessing, sharing with those in need, fasting, memorizing and meditating on scripture, taking care of our bodies, praising Him, holding our tongues, committing to kingdom work through the local church.
  • We can remember that God is light and in Him there is no darkness, at all. Make times to focus on Jesus.
  • We can take a break from the news.
  • We can examine our own lives and ask God to show us any ways that don’t please Him.
  • We can humble ourselves and ask God to fill our hearts with His love for this world.
  • We can pray that the hearts of people won’t be hardened especially those who are in places of authority.
  • We can remember God loves the righteous and the unrighteous. We used to be enemies of God.
  • We can strive to live in such a way that the Lord takes pleasure in us and provides His protection to us.

With all that is going on so rapidly in our world and in our country, it is comforting to know that God’s love is not blind. It is also important for His children to look for where God is working. Ask His Holy Spirit to show you and thank Him for these good things. We must pray for those in authority over us and live our lives in a way that pleases Him. We are God’s way of reaching the world. When He looks at His kids, we want Him to see us actively involved in His work. After all, His love is NOT blind.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:43-48

 

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